Maybe being an historian I am stickler for detail, but the 15 October was not called in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, whatever the BBC, Al Jazeera and, now it appears, SR (frontlines, Socialist Review, November 2011) think. It was called on 19 June at the assemblies in the million strong demos in Spain as an international day against banks, austerity and for real democracy.
This was then taken up, as was intended, by dozens of collectives, including New York who have always stressed the importance of Spanish moment as a source of inspiration. On the day itself there were at least half million demonstrating in Spain. In no way do I wish to downplay the strategical importance that the movement has now taken off in the US, but it is always worth getting the facts right...
Salud y indignación
Education shut down!
The article Changing the Game (Feature, Socialist Review, November 2011) from last months review gave real flavour to the build up to 30 November. But one aspect that will be central to the confidence and militancy of striking staff in universities and schools will be the support of their students.
At Sussex University the excitement from students keeps on growing. 30 November will mark the biggest strike our generation has ever witnessed. But what has become clear is how the unity between workers and students isn't something we should take for granted; it is something we should work for. It might not be clear for many young people why we should build solidarity in the fight over pensions or why resisting tuition fees relates to saving the NHS.
We should use petitions such as "I support the strike" and get them signed in all our classes. This gives confidence to workers who fear management reprisals. We also need to make sure we are on the picket lines. Most importantly the Education Activist Network is planning an education shut down for the day to encourage students to strike with lecturers. The article from last month's review highlighted that the scale of this strike will be decisive in "changing the game" in the fight back against austerity. Students must join this fightback, but we also know that it won't stop on the 30th.
Carry on camping
The recent three articles on the Occupy movement (Frontlines, Socialist Review, November 2011) were incredibly exciting.
The responses have been articulated in different ways, with local conditions dictating priorities and focus. In Britain, for example, Occupy LSX is operating in a context of an upturn in working class resistance to austerity that is in some respects following a parallel track to that of the occupation. As we approach the key 30 November strike, what is crucial is that the tracks converge and that the anti-capitalist movement camped out at St. Paul's mobilise its wide layers of support and channel it towards organised working class activity.
The danger of looking inwards is all too real. The Occupy movement has resonance and appeal amongst broad layers of ordinary people which gives it a huge opportunity to galvanise wider layers to resist austerity. In the port of Oakland ships' ropes were yanked taut as tens of thousands of Californians shut the harbour down, along with much of the rest of the city, after a call by Occupy Oakland for a general strike. This suggests that Occupy is less about occupation as an end in itself, but more as a means to an openly discussed goal that becomes ever more likely the more outward looking the movement becomes.
Big apple bites back
After reading Class War in the USA (Frontlines, Socialists Review, November 2011) and seeing the events in the early hours of 15 November, where hundreds of peaceful protesters were violently removed from Zuccotti Park, two friends and I who have been involved in Occupy LSX made a spontaneous decision to fly to New York for the day of action on 17 November.
Our day began at 6.30am, where we gathered outside Zuccotti Park to march to the New York Stock Exchange. The (armed) police were quick to arrive, but no kettles here, just generous use of batons and lots of arrests. I had guessed that the movement in Wall Street had wider support than Occupy LSX, if only because of the police violence they had experienced, but the continuous numbers throughout the day still surprised me.
As a student myself, I went on the student march, where thousands were gathered. There were familiar cries of "students and workers" with the stateside twist of "shut the city down". I didn't expect students to be as radical as in the UK, mainly because as we walking past the Bank of America there were no police guarding it, while the Wall Street bull was surrounded by police vans. But soon the student march took the roads and ran around the city - it was incredible! The student march joined the rally at Occupy the Hood which ended with a combination of hip-hop and folk music and 40, 000 people marching to Brooklyn Bridge.
17 November was honestly one of the best days of my life. It was so inspiring to see how global the Occupy movement is and its given us all a new lease of life to bring back to Occupy LSX, not to mention the student movement!
New York/East London